Can you relate to this? In our age of wanting everything immediately, it can be easy to cut back on time and resource checking over the words you're communicating to your customers - you know, those people you want to trust you, respect you and buy from you. Then you press 'send', 'post' or 'print' and don't realise there are errors that will scream at you afterwards (or even worse will be highlighted by your customers).
I know we 'go on about it', but the proofreading process is so important, and just as important as writing the words themselves.
What impression do you get if you visit a company’s website and see spelling mistakes, or if there's a typo on a poster, or if a company has long or complicated sentences in their policy documents? It's very likely you'll think, ‘If they can’t even get their grammar right, what else are they going to get wrong?’
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, or whether your company is a sole trader or a large corporation. If you want to portray a professional image and persuade customers that you’re the right company for the job, you need to get things right – starting with the basics. Good spelling and grammar are absolutely fundamental and there’s no excuse for getting them wrong.
But we’re not all geniuses at English, we’re not all grammar geeks and we can’t all get it right every time. You wouldn’t ask a builder to fix your computer any more than you’d ask an accountant to service your car. That’s why, when your goal is to appear professional to your readers, you need to use a professional wordsmith who knows how to save you from embarrassing typographical mistakes.
There’s a strange misconception with writing, that everyone can do it. We’ve all been writing since we were five, haven’t we? Of course we have, but some of us have honed those skills and can spot a spelling mistake or a comma in the wrong place at 100 paces. Importantly, a professional can spot it in your company brochure, your tender document or on your website.
If you don’t want customers to be put off before they’ve even started doing business with you, get your copy checked. Your colleagues may usually be fairly reliable when it comes to grammar, and might have ‘five minutes to spare to glance over it’, but can they use a possessive apostrophe correctly and do they know that it should be ‘the company is’ not ‘the company are’? Do they have the time to really study your words in detail and consider how it is perceived by your target audience? They may do, but why take the risk when your company’s reputation is at stake?
That’s why it’s so important to get your writing proofread by an expert outside the company. Every word, comma, semi-colon and speech mark should be checked by a professional from an outsider's perspective.
If you get your writing right first time, you'll soon see what a difference it can make to your business.
In this fast-paced world, mistakes are understandable, but failure to edit and proofread your business e-mails can
lead to catastrophic results
. Typos and other errors in e-mails can make
you seem unprofessional and careless. However, there are steps that you can
take to proofread your e-mails more effectively. Let’s take a look at some of
the best ways to keep errors out of your online communications right now.
1. Type the recipient’s name correctly
One of the reasons people are so irritated when they see their names misspelt in e-mails is because it gives the impression that the sender does not care about them. You may wish to conduct a Google search, check your business records or look on a business network such as LinkedIn to ensure you have typed their name correctly. If you’re still unsure about how to spell their name after that, don’t include it in your message.
2. Use the right tone
If your e-mail doesn’t sound sufficiently warm or friendly, you may alienate the recipient. It’s a wise move to read the message that you are sending back to yourself two or three times, to check you are happy with the tone. Imagine you are the recipient of the e-mail while reading it back, especially if you’re talking to clients, customers or employees. Think of ways you can make your request sound friendlier.
3. Are you conveying your message correctly?
Does your e-mail include valuable information about a news story, promotion or event? Make sure you haven’t assumed too much knowledge on the part of the reader. Have you left out anything they can’t be expected to know, such as who you are and what services you provide? Similarly, make sure you are not providing irrelevant information. You may risk losing the interest of your recipient if your message isn’t clear or concise. Write short sentences and use small words, unless you are using terminology the reader is likely to be familiar with – they may only have a few moments to read and digest your e-mail.
4. Choose your verbs carefully
To avoid using the same words too often in your message, swap words you have typed multiple times for more interesting or even more powerful alternatives. If you can cut words out from sentences without compromising the meaning, consider doing so.
5. Proofread repeatedly – can the message wait?
Sometimes it’s not enough to simply scan your text once before sending it. Go through your message slowly three or four times, focussing on each sentence, to ensure your grammar and spelling are correct. Spell-checkers can help you, but they can overlook errors from time-to-time. You may even wish to wait a while before sending your e-mail, especially if it contains sensitive information which could generate an angry or otherwise emotional response. If necessary, leave your message in your drafts folder and wait a day or two before checking it again and releasing it. Also, drafting an email on your smartphone is fine, but make sure you finish and send it on your computer to avoid embarrassing predictive text errors creeping in.If you'd like to know more about improving your writing, our FREE 10 Top Tips for Writing Well provides useful advice to help you improve your general business writing skills.